It's Alive

It's Alive

It’s Alive scared the shit out of me when I was in junior high. But first, some weirdness.

I saw this movie circa 1977, which makes little sense when looking over IMDb’s search results:

The movie I saw was absolutely the 1974 version, so it’s a little weird that I’d be heading to the theater to see it 1977. It was a financial failure when first released, but according to Wikipedia:

Three years after its original release, it was reissued with a new advertisement campaign. The new 1977 TV advertisement showed a baby carriage with the music “Rock-a-bye Baby” playing, then a claw came out and a voice-over said, “There is only one thing wrong with the Davis baby. It’s alive”. The new ad drew people into theaters, ultimately earning Warner Bros. $7.1 million in U.S. domestic rentals.

I don’t understand how the phrase “drew people into theaters” relates to “$7.1 million in U.S. domestic rentals”, but there it is. That’s how I came to see it 1977 and it’s how you came to be reading this thirty-five years later.

The movies was rated PG. From Wikipedia:

Surprisingly, in view of the fact that some countries (Finland among them) banned the film, the movie received a MPAA rating of PG in the United States. It was also originally given an 18 certificate in the UK, but was recently lowered to a 15. It was also originally given an R rating in Australia, where it has been lowered to an MA rating. It was given an R16 rating in New Zealand.

Banned in Finland, 18 certificate in the UK, R in Australia. These were different times, indeed.

It was shown at the Winwood Cinema II in the Winwood Mall in Odessa, Texas. Both the theater and mall are now gone. From CinemaTreasures.org (and included here only for posterity):

The Winood (sic) Cinema II was the first all out mall movie theater for the city of Odessa when it opened August 22, 1973, at Winwood Mall, by Rowley United theaters.

Cinema National, a fly by night firm took the theater over in 1974, but it lasted less than a year. In 1975 the it became part of United Artists theater’s which was really on a roll in those days. The firm would later open Permian 4 in 1980, and North Park 6 in 1984. United Artists began a downward spiral in the 1990’s and abandoned and closed many theaters, one of which was the Winwood. It bit the dust in 1996. The structure was still standing in 2004 behind the Music Mall, which had expanded across the old Winwood Mall location.

That last sentence is incorrect. Music Mall (it’s proper name is Music City Mall) is located about a mile east of the old Winwood Mall’s site. I wish I did not know that.

Anyway, I went to see It’s Alive because I had the hots for this girl who was going with a group of girls to see it. I figured it was my best shot. I was young and did not know any better.

The most I can say for the evening is I spent the entire 91 minutes trying to not soil myself. I was scared out of my wits and desperately, between hopeful hand-brushing and occasional hand-holding (score!), trying to not out-scream the gaggle of girls. Truthfully, I spent most of the movie staring at it between my fingers and over my clenched fists. There was very little dignity salvaged, a precursor to my future dating years.

We gathered in the foyer after the movie, talking. I was just finishing a sentence, something like “I thought it was pretty scary,” as my eyes grazed over the freakish movie poster, when a hand slapped down on my shoulder from behind, when suddenly my heart stopped, when I jumped easily three feet in the air, and I screamed. I wheeled around and came face-to-face with my mother and the undying (it never dies, really) laughter of the girls.

“Are you ready to go?” mom asked.

I followed her out the doors and into my unenviable future.

Fast forward 3 - 4 years and HBO is the next big thing. Movies in your home on their schedule. I’m switching around one evening and I see it. It’s Alive. The movie that has haunted my past few years. The movie that has stained my memory. The movie that I’ve continually insisted was a truly horrifying experience. I settled in, determined to not be defeated. Not this time.

Holy shit, that movie sucks. I mean, really? This thing is unwatchable. True, it’s enjoyable from a campy standpoint, but as a horror flick it’s terrible. There’s nothing, other than campiness, redeemable about this movie. There’s no terror. There’s no horror. There’s no … anything. To call this a “B movie” is an insult to the truly awesome B movies out there. This is more adequately classified as a borderline unwatchable straight-to-video thing.

To this day, I still watch it when I can. I don’t own it, but if it’s on, I watch it. And the girls I went with? We’re all still friends and, although I don’t know if they recall it, I’ll never forget it. It was the scariest non-scary movie I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the many unexplainables in my life.

But it made enough money to live on. It spawned It’s Alive II: It Lives Again and It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive. You can get all three as a triple feature DVD from Amazon. I’ve never seen 2 or 3. And I’m probably better for it.